Sep
03
2013

John Kerry's Very Precise Death Toll: Where Does It Come From?

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Media reports emphasize the number John Kerry gives for the number of Syrians killed in the apparent chemical attack. But where does that number come from–and why is substantially higher than other estimates?

Sep
01
2013

Which Syrian Chemical Attack Account Is More Credible?

Secretary of State John Kerry making the case that Damascus has used chemical weapons (US State Department)

Which account of the mass deaths in Syria should be given more credence: the U.S. government version introduced by Secretary of State John Kerry, or the article published by the Minnesota-based news site Mint Press? The government account expresses "high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack." The Mint report bore the headline "Syrians in Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack."

Aug
30
2013

On Syria, Intelligence and Evidence

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One would hope that the lessons of Iraq might inform more of the coverage of Syria. But that's not always the case. Over the course of the past week, the White House and various officials have been adamant that they have evidence that shows the Syrian government was responsible for the horrific attack last week that likely killed hundreds, and very well could have been a chemical or gas attack of some sort. But too many journalists were treating what the government said it knew as if it was already actual evidence. On NBC Nightly News (8/27/13), Andrea Mitchell reported […]

Aug
23
2013

The NYT Thinks You're an Idiot

Private Chelsea Manning will be serving out a 35-year sentence at Fort Leavenworth prison for revealing classified information to WikiLeaks. Are you confused by that sentence? Not sure what case we're talking about here? Maybe there were two Private Mannings who are now tied for the record of longest prison sentence in the history of this country for whistleblowing? It's hard to imagine that, more than 24 hours after Manning made her gender identity public through a written statement read on the Today show (8/22/13), any reader or viewer would not figure out pretty quickly who the news was talking […]

Aug
07
2013

NSA Defenders Take to the Airwaves

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After intelligence reports about a possible Al-Qaeda attack , the Sunday chat shows were packed with politicians claiming that this meant that the NSA had been vindicated.

Jul
01
2013

Press Latched On to Snowden's 'Dropout' Status

Megyn Kelly and Chris Stirewalt

Edward Snowden has been characterized as many things in recent weeks, but journalists' discounting him as a "high-school dropout" speaks volumes about media portrayals of education.

Jun
27
2013

Snowden Is Helping Terrorists (But Don't Quote Me on That)

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It looks like we might be on to a new phase in the Edward Snowden saga: anonymous government officials going to compliant media outlets to complain that his revelations have made it easier for terrorists to evade capture.

Jun
18
2013

Spinning Surveillance via Discredited NSA Talking Points

Barack Obama on Charlie Rose

What might it say about the depth of NSA's record of success stories that, even after its prime exhibit is debunked, the White House is still retailing the story, the second time around with muddled language?

Jun
17
2013

Syria and Sarin: Skepticism Still Warranted

David Gregory (cc photo: CSIS)

When it comes to Syria, corporate media typically betray a lack of skepticism when it comes to government claims about the WMDs of "enemy" countries. But there are notable exceptions.

Jun
05
2013

After a Massacre, a 'Glimmer of Hope'?

CBS's Elizabeth Palmer in Afghanistan.

In a courtroom base near Tacoma, Washington, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales will plead guilty today to killing 16 civilians–most of them women and children–in an Afghan village on March 11, 2012. A little more than a year later, U.S. media seem to have not much interest left in the Bales case.

May
28
2013

Did Obama's Speech Really 'Narrow' the War?

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If you followed the coverage of President Barack Obama's May 23 speech at the National Defense University, you would think something big happened to the "war on terror." That was probably the message the White House wanted the press to send. But is true?

May
17
2013

Is There Really a 'Scandal Trifecta'?

Benghazi, the Justice Department seizing AP phone records, and the IRS targeting Tea Party groups: Much of the Beltway press corps–which has pushed the Benghazi story for months–is seeing the Obama presidency in a state of near free-fall. But what's actually happening?

May
16
2013

The Supreme Court Is an Ass

The government attacking press freedom.

From Free Press's helpful explainer of the AP phone records scandal, noting the legal background: Smith v. Maryland — In this 1979 decision, the Supreme Court found that people have no expectation of privacy when it comes to the numbers they call because they understand it has to be transmitted through a third party (telephone company). Thus, the [Digital Media Law Project] notes,  "the government can obtain that information simply by issuing a subpoena to a telephone company or other third party." As Mr. Bumble says, "If the law supposes that, the law is a ass–a idiot." Everyone who wouldn't […]